Wednesday, February 10, 2016
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Section A: General News


From Big Apple to Big Oil


From Big Apple to Big Oil
Payal Haq, general manager of the Super 8 hotel in Floresville, addresses the business of the day from her office.


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Pascalle Bippert
WCN Correspondent
July 10, 2013
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Eagle Ford shale brings hoteliers to Floresville

Payal Haq has spent most of her life in hotel rooms. That hasn’t changed; she now resides at the new Super 8 hotel in Floresville as its general manager.

Her parents are from India, but moved to this country in 1980. Their families were farmers, but they left agriculture behind to find the American dream. They began working as housecleaning employees at a hotel. They lived on the property in a hotel room, so Payal lived in a hotel all her childhood. She grew up that way.

“We never lived in a neighborhood,” she said. “There was always a McDonald’s or gas station next door.”

The family would take two or three rooms and connect them together with doors. After her family saved up enough money, they bought their own hotel.

Born in Baltimore, Md., Payal’s family moved to Ohio when she was 9. Although she went to college in Chicago, she completed her degree in biology at the University of Akron in Ohio.

... off to the Big Apple

After she completed college, her parents moved to Houston. Instead of settling there with them, she moved to New York, where she lived for four years.

There, Payal got a good job as an assistant to the project manager for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. She helped build the memorial, which stands today.

New York was very expensive to live in; to make it affordable, she rented her bedroom to a roommate, while she slept in the living room. After four years of scraping by, living paycheck to paycheck, she decided to make a life change.

Gone to Texas

After the completion of the World Trade Center project, Payal moved to Houston. There, she worked for her father as a sales manager in one of his hotels. Payal worked her way up to operations manager, then to general manager of a Candlewood Suites hotel.

She found in that job that she needed more shuttle drivers; a friend referred another friend to help out, and this is how Payal met Zia Haq.

Zia was born in Pakistan but moved to the United States with his family when he was 7 years old. He became an American citizen, graduated from high school, and joined the U.S. Army. He served in Kandahar, Afghanistan, for 18 months, and lived in an Army tent in the desert. Zia, like Payal, is a college graduate.

She felt an instant attraction to him. When she told her family about this cute guy at work, they recognized his name as Pakistani and asked her to stay away from him, due to cultural differences between Pakistan and India. Pakistan and India were the same country while the British ruled them. It wasn’t until 1947, when the British left, that Pakistan separated from India.

Despite the cultural differences, the couple fell in love.

His parents were more accepting of Payal. Her family was hesitant at first; her grandmother did not want her to marry outside of her caste. But love finds a way, and they were married.

Family heritage

Payal wore the customary beautiful red gown that an Indian bride wears; Zia wore the traditional headdress and outfit of an Indian groom. Their wedding photos are breathtaking.

Payal can understand Hindi and Urdu -- her husband Zia’s family’s language -- as well as Gujarati, her Indian family’s language. She hasn’t mastered speaking these tongues, however, and answers in English! She said Zia’s family in Pakistan speaks better English than her family does.

Although Payal has tried her hand at cooking traditional Indian food, she is a novice; this is just as well, as she and Zia prefer hot dogs and hamburgers to Indian cuisine. Perhaps with time and a few more years of marriage, she will cook as well as her mom, she said.

Payal and Zia recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary.

South Texas

When asked what brought them to Floresville, Payal said her father had built a hotel in Pleasanton. He had heard about the Eagle Ford shale boom and decided to pursue business in Floresville.

Payal is an urbanite and misses city life, but is looking forward to making new friends in Floresville. Zia loves Floresville. He said he is amazed at how nice people are here.

He had some leftover pipe in his truck that was of no use to him and offered it to a man who had asked what he was going to do with it. The next day, that farmer visited the hotel and gave him a 5-pound bag of homemade peanut brittle.

Zia said the doctors and nurses are so friendly. He has lived in big cities like Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Houston all his life and he enjoys the small-town atmosphere.

They are not particularly religious, and are definitely American.

They are an adorable couple and so pleasant. Payal is very bright and energetic and personable. She and her husband make a wonderful addition to our community.

They look forward to a warm welcome from the community where they’ve made their new home.
 

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